#3 Oregon State Baseball 2016 Preview

Oregon State Beavers
Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
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Oregon State was a very young team in 2015 that overachieved, winning 39 games and advancing to the Dallas Baptist Regional. Head Coach Pat Casey has built a consistent winner by taking care of business on the recruiting trail as the Beavers brought in the 12th ranked recruiting class according to Baseball America for the 2016 season. This, combined with the return of 65 percent of the homeruns and 39 wins in the pitching rotation, will set Oregon State up for a trip back to the College World Series for the first time since the 2013 season.
2015: 39-18-1, 19-10-1
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Pat Casey
Field Players:
Sophomore infielder/catcher KJ Harrison was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, along with being named to Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, D1Baseball.com, NCBWA’s Freshman All-American teams. Harrison started all 58 games, hit .309 with ten homeruns and 60 runs batted in and had several clutch hits throughout the season. Junior shortstop Trever Morrison will stabilize things up the middle defensively, while providing consistency at the plate after hitting .317 in 42 games last season. Junior catcher Logan Ice was flawless defensively last season as Ice had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on 302 chances. Ice also kept opposing teams in check by throwing out 12 runners in 24 attempts. Offensively, he hit .276 with three homeruns and 22 runs batted in.
Sophomore Drew Rasmussen will be the Friday night starter taking over for Andrew Moore, who was lights out as a number one starter. Rasmussen came in right off the bat as a freshman and made an instant impact with a 7-4 record and a 2.80 earned run average. It is going to be important for Rasmussen to go deep in games to save the bullpen for Saturday and Sunday. Senior Travis Eckert should slide in to the Saturday spot and the Sunday slot should be filled by Luke Heimlich. Sophomore Mitch Hickey will be the closer and is looking to build upon a great freshman season in 2015. Hickey was 4-1 with a 2.28 earned run average and collected 11 saves.
Who to Watch:
Junior outfielder Kyle Nobach hit .317 with two homeruns, 25 runs batted in and was rock solid defensively last season, committing only two errors. Incoming freshman second baseman Cadyn Grenier should start right away after being drafted as a 21st round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals but choosing not to sign. Grenier hit .471 with six homeruns and 28 stolen bases while playing for Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada last year. Nick Madrigal should also start right away as a freshman over at third base and will be that sparkplug in the lineup that championship contending teams need in order to make a run at a national title.
Final Projection:
The Beavers will hit the road to Surprise, Arizona for two straight weekends worth of tournaments. Minnesota, Kansas State and Kansas will provide plenty of opportunities to help solidify a strong RPI for Oregon State right off the bat. San Diego State will visit Corvallis in late March to round out the non-conference schedule. A trip to Berkley over Easter weekend to play California will set the tone of the conference race for the winner. The toughest stretch of the conference schedule will be the last three series starting with the Civil War in Corvallis against Oregon followed by a trip to USC and then a visit from UCLA. If the pitching can stay healthy all season long, it should peak by May which will set the Beavers up for a run to Omaha and a legitimate shot at another national championship.
Projected Postseason: College World Series
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: KJ Harrison, IF/C, 220
Hits: KJ Harrison, IF/C, 68
Home Runs: KJ Harrison, IF/C, 10
RBIs: KJ Harrison, IF/C, 60
Runs: KJ Harrison, IF/C, 40
Stolen Bases: Christian Donahue, IF, 9
Wins: Drew Rasmussen, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Drew Rasmussen, P, 106.0
Strikeouts: Drew Rasmussen, P, 82
Saves: Mitch Hickey, P, 11
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#9 Cadyn Grenier